Looong Barrels


I recently purchased a used Beretta 687S and I’ve been very happy with it. I usually shoot skeet and Pheasant ( walk-up) but recently I’ve been shooting more Sporting Clays and Duck. Now both my Sporting friends and my Duck friends are telling me that my 26.5 in barrels are woefully short for those games. Do you agree? Is it a case of a smoother swing… or like most friends are they just bragging about size? If you do agree… is it possible to purchase longer barrels and have the fit checked by a gunsmith?

I guess I should admit that I’m an average shot hitting around 70 at sporting… perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse!

Thanks Bruce.


Dear Peter,

Aha! Barrel envy! Well, don’t let it get you down. Handsome is as handsome does.

Barrel lengths are as much fashion as anything else. Thirty years ago 26″ barrels were just about universally used for skeet. Now you see mostly 28″, but also some 30″ lengths. As sporting clays has matured as a sport here in the US, barrels have grown like Pinocchio’s nose. At first it was 28″, then 30″, then 32″ and now you see many 34″ O/Us. But you also see a lot of used 34″ sporters for sale too.

The theory behind long barrels for the target sports is that they help you more on the long shots than they hurt on the short ones. That’s the theory. Long shots require precision and the longer sighting plane plus greater forward weight contribute to precision for many shooters. The problem comes when you get too much of a good thing. If those barrels get too heavy, you can’t move them.

Overly heavy barrels are compounded by some of today’s factory screw chokes. We all love the convenience of screw chokes, but did you know that some of them weigh 1.5 ounces each? (Hint: look at the extended Browning Invector Plus chokes) That means two of them add 3 ounces right under the front bead. That’s an entire ton and is the reason that so many longer barreled guns handle like logs. Swinging some of these guns is like having a six year old kid hanging onto the muzzle. Beretta has gotten better, especially with the lighter barrels on the new Optima Bore O/Us. The longer barreled B. Rizzinis and Caesar Guerinis are fairly nicely balanced. Still, for many makers 28″ and 30″ are the sweet spot for proper balance. You have a better chance of getting properly balanced loooong barrels in a fixed choke gun. Just ask Perazzi. They’ll sell you a set of 34″ tubes that weigh just under 1.600 kg. They’ll also sell you barrels that weigh more than an equal length of concrete sewer pipe, so be careful what you ask for.

So, I would advise letting barrel length be determined by the balance and moment of inertia of the gun, not by some arbitrary length. In a shotgun, balance is everything. How does your 26″ gun balance for you? Would you like more weight up front or are you happy with it as it is now? If you like the balance, ignore the length. It will take care of itself. I you want some more weight up front, the easy way to get it is with extra length.

There is certainly no need to buy a new gun if you choose not to. If you feel that you need a bit more weight at the muzzle, contact Rich Cole. He’d be more than happy to supply you and fit an extra set of longer Beretta barrels for your gun. Then you could keep the short barrels for upland hunting and have longer barrels for targets. Extra barrels aren’t terribly expensive. They would let you have your cake and eat it too. Which, of course, is the whole point of life.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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